Putting the Benefits of Bilingualism into Practice

biling blackboardThe National Science Foundation’s Partnerships in International Research and Education (NSF PIRE) has awarded a $5 million dollar grant over five years to help translate the scientific benefits of language learning from the lab to the classroom. Research has shown that speaking two or more languages makes minds more open to learning and more flexible, so now’s the time to find out how students can make the most of it.

Judith Kroll, distinguished professor of psychology, linguistics, and women’s studies at Penn State University is the principal investigator on this project, which is leveraged by partnerships with the U.S. Agency for International Development and by international counterpart funding by China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, Spain’s Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, and Germany’s Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.

In 2010, Penn State’s Center for Language Science received an NSF PIRE grant for $2.8 million that is now in its final year. That project assembled a cross-disciplinary team of researchers in the U.S. and abroad to investigate the science of bilingualism. The new grant, building on the current project, is the second PIRE awarded to the center.

The goal of the new PIRE is to harness the excitement surrounding recent discoveries about the benefits of bilingualism to ask how the science might be translated for educational practice and policy. The new grant will bring science to the classroom and to the field for younger and older learners to examine the consequences of bilingualism for education and health.

The PIRE network includes five domestic partners at Gallaudet University, University of Illinois, University of New Mexico, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus and Haskins Laboratories. The international network spans 10 sites in Europe, Latin America, and Asia, with partnerships at Radboud University, the Netherlands; University of Mannheim, Germany; University of Granada, Spain; University of Edinburgh, UK; Jagiellonian University, Poland; University of Campinas, Brazil; University of Antioquia, Colombia; Universidad Nacional Autonoma, Mexico; and Beijing Normal University and University of Hong Kong both in China. Other Penn State co-principal investigators are Janet van Hell, professor of psychology and linguistics; John Lipski, Edwin Erle Sparks professor of Spanish and linguistics; and Paola Dussias, professor of Spanish, linguistics and psychology.

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  1. For me as a linguist, it is very interesting to hear such facts as these ones about the benefits of bilingualism /or multilingualism. It is also encouraging to work more research on the topics of bilingualism in countries like Ethiopia where many people speak more than one language. Thank you for the news I always want to contact with you and hear things from you.

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